Hackers got into an Associated Press Twitter account on April 23, 2013 and erroneously tweeted that two bombs in the White House had injured President Obama.
Stocks took an immediate downward spiral, “erasing $200 billion of value from U.S. stock markets Tuesday, underscoring the vulnerability of financial markets to computerized trading programs that buy and sell shares without human intervention,” according to today’s Wall Street Journal front page.
In the rest of the article, the alleged responsible party is the Syrian Electronic Army, a group backing Syrian President Assad. The group has apparently hacked into other national media in the U.S. and tagged websites.
The electronic software that deciphers tweets to influence trading are programmed to detect “bomb, hacked, blowing up” and other key words that indicate a disaster or lack thereof.
But, the facts remain; this incident took place over two minutes and U.S. markets were affected, although they nearly recovered the loss at the close of trading.
The Influence of Twitter
Let’s digest this story a moment. I’ll wait.
Were you astonished that a mere tweet could affect the financial markets of the U.S. with extension into global trading? Two minutes is not long, but apparently it is for traders.
At some brokerages, the humans (not the computer programs) with cognitive ability to monitor news feeds to corroborate a White House explosion, mentioned to traders, “careful, these Twitter accounts can be hacked” and no phone calls were made to clients. Smart.
Luckily, the Associated Press took swift action to tweet retractions and hacked posts so everyone knew; however, the damage was done. Cyber-terrorism at its finest.
Analyze Your Twitter Account
- How’s your password? When has it been changed?
- Who has access to your corporate or company account?
- Do agencies or third parties have your passwords?
- What are they permitted to say?
- Does the C-Suite monitor the Twitter stream to ensure content passes muster?
- Who monitors the stream all day long?
- What if your company didn’t monitor all day and your account was hacked, how long would it take for you to catch an erroneous tweet?
The likelihood of hackers caring about a small company account on Twitter is probably low; but stranger things have happened.Twitter has become a channel of influence; it’s no longer “I’m having steak for dinner tonight.” Pay attention, People; we’re in an era where our owned messages are sometimes not ours.